Tag Archives: write

Sometimes it’s the little things

The following is a revised version of an original story written by me in January 2008. It’s well worth retelling.

I had none...until...

You never know where you’ll get your inspiration, your motivation, your drive to move forward in this world.

To illustrate, I have a twin sister named June. She’s actually the better of me. I often think of us as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Twins. Like the part in the movie where the evil scientist is explaining how this fascinating plan went awry. He says they took all the best components and mixed them up in some sort of test tube.

As he looks at Schwarzeneggar, he says (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘All the good stuff went into what stands before you.’ Then he turns to DeVito and says, ‘All the crap left over is what you see in the mirror every day.’

i'm the short one

Between June and me, I’m the crap. But don’t feel sorry for me. Quite frankly, I’m okay with it. I’ve made peace with crap, and crap and I get along just swell.

My twin sister’s beautiful, highly intelligent—just like Arnold, she has all the good qualities of the ‘stuff’ that made us. So her response to one of my stories was met with great delight. It was truly what I needed to move forward in my writing career.

To set the stage, I was sitting at my desk at the ad agency NOT writing, but rather, answering phones and setting meeting schedules—my usual routine even after five years. How did it come to this? I’d even taken two copywriting courses to prove to myself and anyone else who cared that I had a real passion and devotion to the art of writing.

I’d get frustrated in my endless pursuit to do more, be more, and then vent to June. She always responded in kind. “You should really start writing seriously. You’re good at it.” Or, “Juice (her nickname for me), your writing’s da’ bomb. You need to do more.”

That’s just June. Always kind and encouraging. Always the rock. I’d listen to her suggestion…and then go back to work and answer calls.

Of course, all the self-improving techniques, all the writing courses I’d taken made no difference whatsoever to my very intelligent but equally stubborn boss, who believed my only purpose in this world was to answer phones and to care for his schedule. (But we’ll save that for a future, Can You Believe My Life? article.)

Anyway, I’d been struggling with how to make a smooth transition from working full-time at the agency to writing from home full-time. This particular morning was no different.

I just had my article, Outside My Window, published on another Web site. I sent it out to several friends and family members to view, but hadn’t really expected to hear from anyone. Several hours later my phone rings at the front desk. I answer it and hear a stern and familiar voice:

“Get up right now! Get up, get your things and walk out that door and never look back! He [my boss] does NOT appreciate your talent! You are wasting your time at that place! You should NOT be sitting at that front desk …”

I was taken aback. In fact, it took me quite some time to recognize the caller and what she was referring to. I knew that voice, but the ranting and raving was unfamiliar territory.

It was June.

She’d just finished reading my article and felt the need to call me with a “Come to Reality” good talking-to! It worked. After remarkably putting things into perspective for me, on that day and in that very hour I knew it was time for me to take my writing much more seriously, because when June—one of the most intelligent, analytical and reasonable persons I’d ever known—tells you to jump ship, your only response should be, “On which side of the boat?”

I worked vigorously for months to get something suitable to, at least, keep me in the lap of luxury in my extremely small efficiency apartment where I reside (heat included). As it turns out, I now have a national client in the health care industry who actually matched my salary from the agency. On the 28th of December, 2007, I resigned from my full-time position and am now writing full-time from my home office. At the time my “home office” was a four by five extension of the bedroom/kitchen area. Small steps indeed.

Point is, today I have a hopeful outlook for my professional career, and I have June. That’s my girl. She doesn’t say much, but when she does she packs a wallop.

If not for June, I’d likely still be sitting at that same desk, answering that same phone, making those same reservations for that same man. No doubt I’d still be depressed and wondering ‘How my life came to this.’

don't remind me...

It wasn’t some grandiose speech from a soapbox, just a simple, “if-you-don’t-get-off-your-butt-and-do-something-with-your-talent” call that pointed me in the right direction. A simple phone call made all the difference.

Indeed, sometimes it’s the little things.


Writing is Cool, Therapeutic…and most of all Profitable

I try to encourage all my friends, peers, colleagues – what have you – to write. Not simply because it’s a cool thing to do, but because everyone’s struggling in today’s economy. Everyone. And while everyone’s looking under the mattress for folded bills and tossing the sofa cushions aside while scrounging for loose change, money is just WAITING to be made – through writing.

Now right about now you’re thinking, “I’m not a good writer,” or “I don’t have anything to write about,” which is the usual response. It’s the WRONG response, but nonetheless the usual one. I can make this claim because I’m living proof that writing for profit is absolutely possible. Thanks, in large part, to the Internet.

Yes, the Internet has opened all kinds of doors for writers, psuedo-writers, wannabe-writers and all those in-between. And while a college education can certainly help you get your foot in the door, the Internet has allowed lots of closet-writers to break free of the “degree” discrimination. You know what I’m talking about: “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a college degree.” Yes, THAT degree discrimination.

The various sites open to hiring freelance writers in diverse fields (including copywriting, article writing, creative writing, blogging, and much more) are just itching to find a fresh voice, that new pitch. Editors from all countries, representing various niches are in desperate search of … well, YOU! And the beauty of the program is this: it doesn’t cost you a dime to simply try it. Imagine that! A new outlook on life, a new approach to a whole new exciting field, new possibilities can be on the horizon for you – and for free.

I’ve been treading out here in the freelance pool since January 2008, and I gotta tell ya’: I’m not going back. The view is awesome and the water is just fine. What’s more…I can actually LIVE on a day-to-day basis, not merely three or four hours after a hard day’s work, before my head crashes onto my pillow.

Admittedly, the writer’s life isn’t for everyone, but IF you’re tired of the day-to-day struggle, IF you’re looking for something a little different, IF you’re open to learning a new way of living, IF you’re wondering how to pay those bills, and IF you can’t quite see yourself asking, “Would you like fries with that?” watch for my followup blog, Becoming a Writer: How to Get Started, within the next few days.

It just might be what you’ve been searching for.

Judith Brown is a freelance writer from Harrisburg, PA, where she writes for the health care, travel and entertainment industries. With more than six years in advertising, Ms. Brown also serves as a marketing and training consultant to small business industries.

Breaking Through Writer’s Block

I’m not going to pretend to know all there is to know about writer’s block. It’s a subject like most others: there’s always more to it than meets the eye and it generally varies from person to person. That said, I can only tell you what’s worked for me and others in ‘my circle’ to alleviate – or at the very least minimize – the often frustrating tendency.


For me, writer’s block can come at different times in my life. For instance, when my Father died I didn’t want to write anything for several weeks. It just seemed wrong to “dive back into the pool” as if a great man hadn’t just met his demise. I felt I owed it to him and to myself to savor the memories of him – and some of those memories were just too precious to even record on paper. For the most part though I didn’t want to write; I had no desire. And that was that.


Eventually I forced myself to write something – anything – just to get back into the groove. I eventually wrote one or two short diddies about Popi (like these: http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/22059/34247-mighty– and http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/22059/46135-dad-rock-star), but nothing really all that “deep.” Those things will remain between just him and me.


Then there’s the writer’s block that comes with ambient disturbances. For instance, I have neighbors that live above me. Directly above me. Loudly! I like them as human beings, but as neighbors go they are lousy people. (I’m so conflicted.) Anyway, to minimize my writer’s block in this instance I changed my whole office setting around. Now I can close my French doors and have a little less noise and actually get some work done.


But I (and I think most people) have writer’s block simply because of being unprepared. Truth is if you put your mind to it there’s always something to write about. You may have to tweak it here and there, or “borrow” from someone else, but there’s always something to put down on paper. I’m not even so sure writer’s block is a bad thing, it’s just so inconvenient. Because writer’s block always seems to come at a bad time – usually when that client is waiting by the phone for that last-minute revision, or on that new project that I fought so hard to get and yet just can’t seem to grasp hold of.


So I jotted down a few methods that have helped me overcome the dilemma. Why not give them a try the next time you’re faced with writer’s block? You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole batch of writing assignments to gain.


1) Always be prepared: Keep a pen and paper handy, or even a recorder. On several occasions I actually sabotaged my own career by not having something to write with, something to write on, etc. I mistakenly thought I could depend on my overworked, overwrought, overused brain cells to keep that perfect thought in my head until I drove two miles home – by way of shopping for groceries – through torrential storms, settled into my pajamas, and sat down at my laptop to pound out that perfect phrase. Who was I kidding?


2) Jot (or record) anything you hear that might pique your interest. Now. Whether you’re walking through the supermarket, or standing in line at the bank, you’re going to hear something: a statement, a poem, a single word, an expression – be prepared to jot it down to build upon later. And jot it down right now. Keep in mind that it doesn’t even have to make sense; it’s only going to be used as a starting point.


Sometimes as writers I think we feel we have to say it all, impress people with our rhetoric, or create something from nothing, when the opposite can be as effective. Our inspiration often comes from what we’ve heard elsewhere. So if someone blurts out a phrase, or word, or anything that you just MIGHT be able to use to get some writing going – use it. This is not to encourage plagiarism, but to be used as a starting point. Grow from there.


3) Check out your surroundings. Really notice them – and make your words “pop.” What color is the bug on your patio, and what kind of insect is it? Is the flower red, or is it crimson? Was the old tire worn or was the newness obvious because of the ½ inch tread? Was her hair dyed blonde, or strawberry blonde? Was the blazer pink or was it fushia? Did you hear a loud thud or an alarming crash? Did the wooded chest smell of aged oak or was the aroma similar to a fresh pine? Did he walk along the beach, or did he limp as he casually strolled next to the calm, still waters of the ocean? If you truly pay attention to smaller details, and put those details in writing, you’re bound to build on your story and make the entire piece more interesting to read. That alone will help to beat the writer’s block blues.


4) Just write. Sounds simple, but sometimes simple works. Sometimes I start typing out any ol’ thing that pops in my head. It could be something like, “and he said to her, ‘Don’t just stand over the body! Cover it over with a paper towel!’” – or even, “The baby ran down the street carrying a halibut, wearing only a checkerboard, while the tadpole flapped in the breeze and the carburetor sang Joy to the World,” – which of course makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it works. The point is to get the words – any words – on paper and build on something.


I once heard a discourse that was so mesmerizing that I started writing a poem with the same four words that was the title of the talk. It took several hours of tweaking, changing the entire meaning of the story, altering characters, etc., but in the end it was just so right. I loved it and so did others who read it. Of course, what I ended up writing I would have never come up with on my own. Had it not been for the title of the discourse I wouldn’t have created that piece of poetry in the first place. It was merely “borrowed” to give me a starting point.


Another time I made an inspirational piece out of something that happened in a dream. The dream wasn’t a big deal at all, but what I was able to recall gave me the inspiration to create one of my favorite pieces.


So here’s the thing: writer’s block will happen, but it doesn’t have to defeat you. Fight back with a few simple methods by (1) always being prepared with a pen and paper, or recorder; (2) jotting down anything that you can build upon later; (3) noticing your surroundings; and above all (4) putting it all down in writing.


Those are my recommendations and I’m sticking to them.


‘Til next time.


I’m Juice, and I’m signing off.